Romanticism

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What is Romanticism? Mention the characteristics of Romanticism with reference to the main poets who represented this era.

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The Romantic Period, 1758–1832, explored many different topics, such as political revolution, appreciation for nature, and the birth of new literary landscapes. The most noted poets of that period, such as William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, and Lord Baron Byron, wrote about and discussed the social and political issues between England and France.

The British experience following the Restoration era (1660–1789)—under the English Monarchy—is uniquely captured a literary movement known as Romanticism (1798–1837). There was a new appreciation for the arts and celebrating natural life, and masses of British citizens were flocking to freshly built theaters, concert halls, pleasure gardens, libraries, and shopping districts.

An assortment of printed works were published and increasing numbers of literate women and men took an incredible interest in them. Above all, the simplicity of style aimed to give pleasure to readers—to express passions that everyone could recognize in language that everyone could understand. For example, according to John Dryden, John Donne’s (a rival poet) poems misguidedly “[perplex] the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy, when he should engage their hearts, and entertain them with the softness of love.” Dryden’s poems would not make that mistake—like subsequent English critics, he values poetry according to its power to move an audience. Other poetry writers of Romantic period began taken on this new form of persuasive writing. A phrase from Horace’s “Art of Poetry” was interpreted to mean that poetry ought to be visual as verbal art.

Better known as a prolific literary movement in British history, Romanticism birthed literature that presented a clear contrast to seventeenth-century literature, where the insistence on reason, classicism, and realism prevailed.

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One has to mention also the Preface to Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and Coleridge, in which the "rules" and features are spelled out in details such as "powerful emotion recollected in tranquility."

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Romanticism was a literary and artistic movement that lasted from the late 18th century to the middle of the 19th century. In terms of poetry, Romanticism is known as the successor to the previous period, Neoclassicism. Neoclassicism was a movement that paid homage to Classical literature. These poets stressed structure, order, and reason. Conversely, the Romantic poets focused more on subjectivity, emotion, and experimentation.

Given the Romantic's interest in subjective, emotional experiences in art, the poetry tended to be more personal than that of their Neoclassical predecessors. Wordsworth's poem "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" is about a the poet's return to a place of his youth. In perceiving this old haunt, the poet reimagines his experiences as a younger man. He finds a connection with nature once again and treats this act of perception as an active, rather than a passive, experience. In other words, the act of perceiving becomes like an act of creation. Finding such an intuitive experience this personally rewarding was a staple of Wordsworth's thinking as a poet. Poets like John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley shared this feeling.

Nature was certainly an important element for a lot of Romantic poets. But there was also a Gothic movement that came out of Romanticism. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus was the most famous of these. Like Wordsworth and the others mentioned, this was a work that got its inspiration from imagination. Although it is clearly a darker work of literature, it shares that idea of exploring the depths of the imagination.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was another prominent Romantic poet. He and Wordsworth collaborated on Lyrical Ballads, one of the staples of Romantic poetry. His poems "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and "Kubla Khan" explore dreams, psychological depth, and imagination.

William Blake, who sort of got the Romantic movement going, was a cultural critic, sculptor, and poet. His interest in religion and mysticism caused many to consider him a pre-Romantic.

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